If you’re the average fantasy football player, perhaps you subscribe to the theory of loading up on running backs in the early rounds, and there is some merit to that line of thinking. After all, the running back position is the meat and potatoes of your lineup. But if you want an edge on your competition, it’s not as simple as taking a running back in each of the first two rounds, and a backup within the next three rounds with a quarterback or wide receiver somewhere in between.
In a previous article, I touched on some of the Dos and Don’ts of a successful fantasy football enthusiast, but now, I’d like to look deeper at the league draft itself. It’s not impossible to recover from a poor draft, but getting out of the gate with a strong team makes it much simpler. So, to aid you in your development as a general manager, I’ll detail some fantasy football draft strategies that will give you an edge over your competition this season.
- Understand Peer Values (also known as tiers)
Obviously, a good fantasy football team needs good running backs, so if you are drafting high in your league, chances are your first-round pick will be a back. But sometimes a ball carrier of similar fantasy potential, or slightly lower, is likely to be on the board a round later. Like I said, probably not early in the first when all the studs are taken, but certainly by the end of the round and into the rest of the draft. At that point, you need to look at peer values, or in other words, the value of a player as he compares to the remaining field at his position.
To make that comparison, you’ll need to do a lot of pre-draft work, but it will be worth it in the long run. (Or you can simply use About Football's cheat sheets which peer values built in.) If you prefer to do it yourself, you’re going to have to project stats for every player you feel is draft worthy and devise that into a rating system. To come up with a rating for each player, simply plug your projected stats for that player into the league’s scoring system and use his projected point total as a ranking device.
Now, you can take that second starting running back that we talked about in the second round, but if the rest of the league can get that same value (or close to it) a round later, then it’s not a value pick. Suppose that running back projects out to just 15-20 points more over the course of the season than the next four or five backs on your list. That would put him on the same tier as those other backs, and you’re not going to gain much of an advantage over your competitors with that selection. Suppose, however, the top available quarterback on your list outranks the next QB by 100 points. By jumping all over him, and losing maybe two points per game at running back, you can gain maybe six or seven on average in this example.
In a nutshell, peer value is simply the gap in talent between players at a particular position. When the gap is big from one player to the next, you want to try to fill that position before the talent level takes a dive. When you have a cluster of players with similar values, chances are, you can hold off a bit in filling that part of your roster.
About Football's cheat sheets group the players in tiers to further aid you in your fantasy football draft.